We spend about a third of our lives asleep. I have no idea why that sleep stat ALWAYS shocks me considering the majority of us find ourselves in bed for about 30% of the day. I’ve read many times that maintaining a similar daily routine and waking at the same time each day can be beneficial. As sacrilege as it sounds not to hit the snooze button and take advantage of lie-in at a weekend I’m still usually awake before seven on a Saturday. (Though I’m probably scrolling on my phone rather than hot-footing to the shower). The experts tell me that waking at the same time stabilises the circadian rhythm which in turn can help keep the digestive system and metabolism in balance. While I may have a fairly decent morning routine, my evening one is all over the shop.
On a winter’s eve there is nothing I like to do more than switch off the laptop, light a couple of candles and bundle myself under a throw to watch a boxset. Since I came to my senses last year and realised I needed to focus on one job rather than three my evening routine has become a lot less manic. Finally I’ve got to a good place where 9pm means Netflix viewing not inbox bashing, however I have absolutely no evening routine whatsoever. At the moment my bedtime is anywhere between 11pm and 1am. There was one night last week where I zonked out on the settee at about 9pm for about three hours. I climbed up to Bedfordshire at midnight and then lay awake for an hour or so and then woke up several times through the night. I felt so lethargic the next day and so I know the key to a good night’s sleep is not to take forty winks while watching TV. Does anyone else find themselves doing this? Falling asleep in front of the box and then counting sheep for the rest of the night?
As I mentioned previously I don’t have a ‘set’ bedtime and dependent on what I’m up to that evening it can fluctuate by a few hours. Sometimes I have to admit I’m shattered but can’t seem to find the energy to go and get ready for bed. Oh the irony.
I am next to useless if I get less than six hours sleep. As with anyone it affects me mentally and physically; I feel more emotional, am more prone to illness, lack creativity and make poor dietary choices when I’m tired. However generally I don’t see any benefit if I have six hours of sleep or if I get more than eight. Other than when I have periods of anxiety I’d say I’m a ‘good sleeper’ providing I’m in my own bed I get some good quality shut-eye.
It’s no secret that Maggie Thatcher used to get by on 4 hours a night but I’ve never met anyone who can function on that little. I tell a lie there, every mother I know but that’s often not by choice. Apparently the national average sleeping period is six and a half hours so I’m intrigued to know how much sleep you feel you need and if you have a bedtime routine. So far my fluctuating nighttime routine doesn’t seem to have much impact.
Do you find eight hours the magic number? Do you survive on much less sleep? Do you have the same bedtime every night?
If you’re struggling with sleep then please do check out our archive feature on CBT and insomnia.